Home sales soar during first half of 2015

Home sales and prices continued to rise in the Lowcountry in June.

Charleston area homes continued to sell at a brisk jaunt last month.

Homes sales rose 15.6 percent in June over the same month last year as 1,679 homes changed hands in the region at a median price of $240,000, according to preliminary data Friday from the Charleston Trident Association of Realtors. The median price for June is about $12,500 more than a year ago.

Over the past two years, the median price has risen nearly $25,000, as the economy improved and housing demand increased.

So far this year, volume is up 18.7 percent to 7,899 sales, compared to 6,654 sales through the first six months last year. The median price for the first half of 2015 is $225,000, up 4 percent.

CoreLogic, a property information service, expects home prices to rise about 5 percent by next May.

Mortgage rates near 4 percent are helping to fuel home purchases, said Frank Nothaft, chief economist for the firm.

Home inventory in the Lowcountry decreased by about 130 from last month with 5,725 homes listed on the market as “active” for sale in the Charleston Trident Multiple Listing Service.

“Currently, the demand in our market is very high and is starting to outpace inventory,” said Matt DeAntonio, association president. “As the Charleston market enjoys sustained, healthy price growth, more homeowners will be able to sell their homes as we progress through the second half of the year.”

He added that rising home prices will allow people to build more equity and put their homes on the market, increasing inventory.

“Even though our regional market didn’t experience as drastic a downturn as other markets around the country (during the last recession), many potential sellers are still held back by negative or zero equity,” DeAntonio said.

“Many people who would like to list their homes can’t yet. Even if potential sellers have some equity in their home, it may not be enough for a downpayment on their next home, and it takes time to build equity,” he added.

The demand for new homes is being driven by an influx of new residents to the Charleston region looking for jobs as Boeing expands and major car manufacturers Daimler and Volvo Cars launch new plants in the region.

The Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce estimates the area gains 43 new residents a day, all looking for places to live.

The association also adjusted May’s figures slightly to show 1,466 homes sold, up by nine, at an unchanged median price of $235,000.

Reach Warren L. Wise at 937-5524 or twitter.com/warrenlancewise.